Complete Story


The Brand Manager is Dead

Long live the brand activist

One of my first memories is sitting on my father’s shoulders at a 1973 Vietnam protest in Holland. As my Mom tells the story, my angelic blonde three-year-old self made quite the impact as I shouted ‘Nixon, Nixon - get your hands off Vietnam!’.

My Dad left his comfortable associate math professor position at a university in his late twenties to head the ‘Interchurch Peace Council’, a church-funded Dutch NGO. In the 1980s, he led the massive European anti-nuclear movement, galvanizing almost 500,000 citizens to demonstrate in Amsterdam and in The Hague. Later on, he fought for human rights in Eastern Europe, built close ties with leaders like Lech Walesa in Poland and Vaclav Havel in Czechoslovakia, and en route, became a ‘persona-non-grata’ in East Germany with a large Stasi-file.

I took a different route. My first job after college was in marketing, with consumer goods behemoth Procter & Gamble. My father would jokingly refer to it as ‘The Firm’, after the John Grisham thriller. And while he was proud of my burgeoning career, I’m sure his pride at times was mixed with a sense of bewilderment about how his daughter ended up selling Vicks VapoRub (yes, my very first assignment) at this icon of American capitalism.

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